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Last Updated on December 1, 2020

8 Ways to Change Your Self-Sabotaging Behaviors

8 Ways to Change Your Self-Sabotaging Behaviors

Self sabotaging. This is the tiny voice within us that quietly repeats the same sentence over and over again until we listen to it. It is not a sentence that enables us to live a joyful, successful life.

In fact, it is a sentence that holds us back from living life to the fullest, and when we listen to it, we forgo our dreams and goals. That one sentence, if we allow it to, can have a lot of control over how we live our lives.

“As I look into my life, I might ask, ‘Who is the person that represents the greatest threat to me?’ And if I happen to have a mirror around somewhere, I can rather quickly answer that question.” – Craig D. Lounsbrough

This quote describes pretty well what self-sabotage is all about. Self-sabotage is an internal process that we all have within ourselves, whether it be through thoughts or behaviors that keep us from what we desire most in life.

Are You Self-Sabotaging?

The one sentence that our subconsious keeps telling us is:

“You can’t do this.”

This tiny but powerful voice comes from our subconscious. Our subconscious is designed to protect us from harm and help us manage our fears. Now, when we use our subconscious in a productive way, it can help us navigate through tricky situations.

The problem, however, is that our subconscious can become very overprotective and over time can have a negative influence on us, holding us back from achieving success and happiness in our lives.

“Stop standing in your own way. Stop making excuses. Stop talking about why you can’t. Stop sabotaging yourself. Decide what direction you are going in and take action. One decision at a time, one moment at a time.” – Akiroq Brost

If you are nodding yes to all the things that Akiroq Brost is saying in his quote above, then that is a very good indication that you are self-sabotaging and preventing yourself from achieving all your goals and dreams in life.

What Are Self-Sabotaging Behaviors?

Many of us have engaged in self-sabotaging behaviors that have become habits. We allow these behaviors and thoughts to continually undermine our success and happiness. Some of our self sabotage is so subtle, it’s easy to miss.

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We often fail to recognize how our actions are hurting us. However, there are common actions, thoughts, and behaviors that signal that you are self-sabotaging.

Here’re 3 self-sabotaging habits and behaviors to be aware of:

1. Procrastination

If you are setting goals, working on projects, and not achieving anything – in fact, if you are doing lots of thinking but taking no action – then you are definitely procrastinating. In this case, self-sabotaging thoughts could definitely be ruling your life.

Learn more about procrastination: What is Procrastination and How to Stop It (The Complete Guide).

2. The Inner Critic

Negative self-talk: what you say to yourself – your inner dialogue – can have either a positive influence on your life or a negative influence. If you are constantly criticizing yourself and your self-talk is always negative, then self sabotage is in control of your life.

3. Perfectionism

Perfectionism is a very subtle self-sabotaging behavior because you can always rationalize why you should listen to that voice in your head saying, “It has to be the right time, or I am not quite ready to take action.”

Perfectionism stops you from moving forward and closes you down to any opportunities that will take you out of your comfort zone. Your subconscious is there to keep you safe, and it likes the comfort zone, so it will do anything to keep you there – hence pushing down all those thoughts that keep you from doing anything courageous and daring.

How to Stop Self-Sabotaging

“You can’t imagine just how much believing in negative thoughts is affecting your life…until you stop.” – Charles F. Glassman

Everyone self sabotages – it is what we humans do. Some of us, however, have learned how to manage our self-sabotaging behaviors so that they no longer stop us from achieving our goals and dreams in life.

We all have one gift that can help us take control of our lives for the better. This gift is our power of choice.

By taking action and using your power of choice, you are able to take control and proactively manage your self-sabotaging thoughts and behaviors so they no longer have a negative influence on your life.

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You get to choose the life you want to live and how you want to live it. That is a powerful and wonderful thing to achieve in life!

Along with you using your power of choice, here are 8 steps you can start taking immediately to stop self sabotaging your success in life:

1. Understand Self Sabotage

To manage the behaviors that have a negative influence on your life, you need to understand what self sabotage means for you.

The reasons we engage in self-sabotaging behaviors are complex. However, the root of the problem is often low self-worth. This can lead to us feeling the need to be in control, or feeling inadequate or like a fraud.

Self sabotage can trick you into feeling that you are protecting yourself from disappointment or failure when, in reality, these behaviors are limiting you from reaching your true potential. The more aware you are of the negative thoughts and behaviors that control your life, the easier it is to decide what you want to do about them.

This is when your power of choice comes into play. Choose not to be the greatest obstacle in achieving your dreams.

2. Use Strategies to Help You Manage Avoidance and Procrastination

“The more you resist, the more it will persist.”

This is a saying that has stayed with me for many years. I am a great procrastinator, and the more I avoid taking action, the more my anxiety builds up. The best way to overcome procrastination is to have strategies in place that will force you to be accountable to take action.

For example, make a to-do list that outlines every step involved in achieving the project outcomes.

Or, have a daily to-do list that prioritizes the tasks and activities that must be achieved at the end of the day. Make sure that you have no more than 3 tasks that are a top priority and must be done.

Read more about how to make successful to-do lists: The Right Way to Make a To Do List and Get Things Done.

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3. Find Your Inner Positive Voice

What often holds us back in life is fear, and when we hear that inner critic telling us that we shouldn’t do something, we are afraid that it might be right! We start to believe that we don’t deserve happiness or that we are a failure.

The best way to manage your inner critic and the fear that comes with it is by not engaging in what it is saying. Meditation, mindfulness, exercise, celebrating success, keeping a gratitude journal, and helping others are examples of how you can build your inner voice to where it has a positive influence on your life.

New to mindfulness? Read 7 Simple Tricks To Bring More Mindfulness Into Your Life.

4. Change Your Patterns of Behavior

Everything you achieve is a direct result of your actions. Learn how to control your negative habits and your fear of failure will diminish. Take control your achievements and focus on those behaviors that will reduce your stress over time.

Recognize that your negative actions and behaviors come from a place of low self-worth. Understand your limitations and look for opportunities where you focus on self-improvement.

Focus on reducing your “mental clutter” because when you do this, you will find you will have more energy and time to correct the thinking and behaviors that are not serving you well.

5. Make Small, Meaningful Changes

No form of personal change happens overnight, so be prepared for the journey of change. The best way to stay on this journey is to accept that real change happens one step at a time.

Consistently appreciating the incremental improvements you are making will overtime produce a significant and long-lasting change for the better in your life. It can be very helpful to ask yourself, “How can I improve this by one percent?” rather than asking, “How can I eliminate this self-sabotaging habit?”

6. Set Goals and Plans

Everyone needs a destination or an idea of what they want to achieve, whether it be in life or while working on a project. Having set goals and plans in life gives you clarity and focus and as a result, helps you to stay on track.

You are less likely to get distracted, procrastinate, and be influenced by your inner self-critic. You will also find that you will be a more effective decision maker because you will have the clarity and the confidence to move forward, which is what effective decision making is all about.

Master the decision-making process! How to Make a Decision: The Secret to Making the Right Decision Fast.

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7. Surround Yourself with Positive People

When we are immersed in a life of self sabotage, we tend to inadvertently surround ourselves with people who are in the same predicament. These people feed off each other’s negative energy.

There is no hope for you to make the changes you need if you continue to surround yourself with negative people – they will suck your energy. The more positive and upbeat people you have in your life, the more chance you have to make the changes you need to move forward.

If you want to live a fulfilled and happy life, surround yourself with people who are living the kind of life you desire. Observe their behaviors, their actions, and their language and then integrate all the things you like into your life as well.

8. Practice Self Acceptance and Self Care

Making changes in your life requires time and energy. You can’t ask yourself to make big changes if your energy levels are depleted.

Find ways for you to replenish your energy levels so that you are able to make those changes you need to commit to your journey of change. Be honest with yourself and explore activities that give you the space to reflect and replenish.

There are so many things you can do, so go find that activity or exercise that works for you – go out and explore. Try different things: try yoga or meditation, join a gym, learn to ride a horse, learn to ski. The list can go on.

The one thing for you to keep in mind is that consistent activity brings positive energy into your life, and with this energy, you will find that your self-belief and self-worth will flourish. Self-sabotaging thoughts and behaviors will no longer have any control over your life.

The Bottom Line

“The most dangerous way we sabotage ourselves is by waiting for the perfect moment to begin. Nothing works perfectly the first time, or the first fifty times. Everything has a learning curve. Learn to learn, learn to fail, learn to learn from failing. And begin today. Begin now. Stop waiting.” – Vironka Tugaleva.

Self sabotaging is something that almost everyone struggles with at some point in their lives. The important thing is to acknowledge that it happens, remind ourselves that we are not to blame, and take steps to stop self-sabotaging behaviors. Doing this will help us life happier, more successful lives.

More Tips for Building a Positive Self

Featured photo credit: Callie Morgan via unsplash.com

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Kathryn Sandford

Career Resilience Coach passionate about supporting others to grow and thrive in a complex world.

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

How to Get “I Can’t Do It” Out of Your Vocabulary

How to Get “I Can’t Do It” Out of Your Vocabulary

When someone says, “I can’t do it” . . . I say to myself, “What do you mean you can’t do it?” Maybe you don’t want to do it, but saying you “can’t” do it is a completely different story.

With the right mindset, positive attitude, and a clear vision of what you want to accomplish, the only thing that is holding you back is yourself.

Can’t is a terrible word and it has to be taken out of your vocabulary.

By saying you can’t do something, you’re already doubting yourself, submitting to defeat, and you’re making that barrier around your life tighter.

So today, right now, we are going to remove this word for good.

From now on there is nothing we can’t do.

“Attitude is Tattoo”

Your attitude is everything; it’s your reason, your why and how, your facial expression, emotions, body language, and potentially the end result. How you approach an opportunity, and the result of it, is solely based on you — not your boss or your co-worker or friend.

If you enter a business meeting with a sour attitude, that negative energy can spread like wildfire. People can also feel it — maybe even taste it. This is not an impression you want to leave.

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Now imagine you enter a business meeting with a positive attitude, that whatever happens in here is going to be your result, in your control, not someone else’s. Of course, we can’t always win, but even if the outcome is negative, your attitude and perception can turn it into a positive. The question is: can you do it?

Of course you can, because there is nothing in this world you can’t do.

It’s much better to be known for your positive attitude — your poise, your energy, the reason why things go so well because you are able to maintain such character. A negative attitude is easy. It’s easy to complain, it’s easy to be mad, and it’s even easier to do nothing to change it.

When I say your “attitude is tattoo”, it sounds permanent. Tattoos can be removed, but that’s not the point. Your attitude is like a tattoo because you wear it. People can see it and sometimes, they will judge you on it. If you maintain a negative attitude, then it is permanent until you change it.

Change your attitude and I guarantee the results change as well.

Believe You Can Do It

Do you know why most people say “can’t” and doubt themselves before trying anything?

It’s our lack of self-confidence and fear on many different levels. The one thing we have to purge from ourselves is fear — fear of bad results, fear of change, fear of denial, fear of loss, the fear that makes us worry and lose sleep. Worrying is the same as going outside with an umbrella, waiting for rain to hit it. Stop worrying and move on.

Confidence is fragile: It builds up slowly, but can shatter like glass. Project your confidence and energy into believing in yourself. This is a very important and groundbreaking step — one that is usually the hardest to take. Start telling yourself you can do something, anything, and you will do it the best to your ability. Remove doubt, remove fear, and stick with positive energy.

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Learn how to boost your confidence: How to Be Confident: 62 Proven Ways to Build Self-Confidence

Embrace Failure

Do not fear failure. Do not run away from it. Face it, learn from it, grow, and take action. Just remember: You will never know success if you have never failed.

Your confidence will bolster after embracing these facts. You will be immune to demoralizing results, and instead you will find ways to fix it, improve upon it, and make it better than before. You will learn to never say “can’t,” and will realize how many more opportunities you can create by removing that one word.

Don’t let one simple and ugly word plague your confidence. You’re better and stronger than that.

Start Making the Change

But to actually start the process of change is very challenging.

Why is that?

Fear? Time? Don’t know how — or where — to start?

It’s hard because what we’re doing is unlearning what we know. We are used to doing things a certain way, and chances are we’ve been doing them for years.

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So here are some ways that I avoid using the word “can’t”, and actually take the steps to put forth the change that I wish to see. I hope you can incorporate these methods into your life.

Write down What You Want to Change

Write it on post-its, notecards, whatever makes you comfortable — something you will always see. I usually write mine on post-its and put them all over the wall behind my monitor so I always see them.

Tell a Friend and Talk About It

Discussing your goals, what you want to change, is very effective when you say it out loud and tell another person other than yourself. It’s almost like saying, hey, I bet I can do it — watch me.

When you fulfill that goal and tell your friend, it feels rewarding and will motivate you to do it again in a different aspect. Who knows? Maybe your friend adopts the same mindset as you.

Stop Yourself from Saying the Forbidden Word

Sometimes,I can’t control myself in public when I’m with friends, so I have to be careful with the words I use so I don’t embarrass or insult anyone.

Treat the word “can’t” as the worst word you can possibly use. Stop yourself from saying it, mid-sentence if you must, and turn your whole perspective around — you can do it, you will do it, and nothing is impossible!

Repetition, Repetition, Repetition

You think this change will be overnight? No way. This is a practice. Something you’re going to be doing for the rest of your life from now until forever.

As I said earlier, you are unlearning what you know. You know how easy it is to say you can’t do something, so by unlearning this easy practice, you’re self-disciplining yourself to live without boundaries.

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Practice this everyday, a little at a time, and before you know it, the word can’t will not be part of your language.

Do Anything That Can Relieve Your Uncertainty

When I catch myself saying I can’t do something or I don’t know something, looking up information on that action or subject, doing research, educating yourself, relieves that uncertainty.

Sometimes, we think we can’t do something because the whole idea of it seems too large. We skip the small steps in our head and only focus on the end.

Before you say you can’t do something, rewind and slow down a little bit. Focus on what the first step is, then the next. Take it a step at a time, and before you know it you will have done something you previously thought you couldn’t do.

Final Thoughts

You know what you must do. The first step is right now. Once you begin this habit, and really start noticing some change, you’ll realize the door to opportunity is everywhere.

The funny thing is: Those doors have always been there. The evil word that we no longer use put a veil over our eyes because that’s how powerful that word is.

More Tips for Strengthening Your Resilience

Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

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